Public warned to be sensible today, weather could change at any minute

20-08-2013
Nobody escaped one of the worst torrential storms in decades to hit the Balearics yesterday, whether they were on the ground or in the air. Some 1'500 British tourists flying in to start their sunshine holidays were diverted. When the storm first hit in Ibiza, four flights from the UK were diverted to Palma, but then as the storm moved across Majorca, six flights from the UK were re-routed to Barcelona because of the dangerous conditions. At 7pm last night, on one of the busiest days of the year at Palma airport, flights were still suffering delays of between 46 and 83 minutes for those landing and taking off. All of the diverted holidaymakers were at their respective hotels in the correct resorts last night but only after a nightmare day. The rain, which at its peak fell at a force of 20 litres per square metre in just ten minutes, left 30'000 homes without power in Majorca alone. Yesterday evening GESA said that just 1'000 remained without power in Palma. Telephone lines were brought down and between 10 and 11am, when the eye of the storm hit Majorca, the emergency services were stretched to their limit. In just one hour, over 1'400 calls to the 112 emergency centre were made in Palma, which felt the full force of the storm. Roads were closed by the police, building sites filled up like huge swimming pools, with water seeping through the foundations into basements and stores and sewage systems over flowed as the capital was struck by 8'000 bolts of lightning. The fire brigade was pushed to its limits, pumping out garages, homes and shops in and around Palma. A number of shops in the city were forced to close, either because of the blackout or for flooding.Villages and towns across the island were also swamped and scores of drivers were forced to pull over, unable to continue under the force of the rain and zero visibility. Roads were closed in Palmanyola, Santa Maria, Sa Pobla and Alcudia as water courses burst their banks, spilling across roads and tracks. Considerable structural damage was done to homes and gardens and the situation is going to be very much the same today. While last night the met office said that the storm was moving off, round to the north towards Catalonia and South West France, the weather front, which is moving south to north, is “very unpredictable” and could change at any minute. That is why the Balearics are on maximum storm alert today and the Guardia Civil last night urged drivers to proceed with extreme precaution today and only make short and necessary trips. Many Palma residents were bitter and angry, “every time there's a storm we're flooded out,” local shopkeepers said.

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